Maldives Holidays is something that all tourists dream about and generally visualise an idyllic island country with crystal blue waters, warm sunshine and unending white sand beaches. While none of it is incorrect and most Holiday Packages of Maldives feature these prominently, the fact is that Maldives is among the lowest countries in the world and is 99% water! It can be quite exciting to explore the underwater world of Maldives. As a matter of fact, the average ground level in the Maldives is only 1 meter above sea level and 80% of the country is coral islands.
Geologically, Maldives is among unique countries in the world with most of the country being surrounded by reefs of living as well as dead coral which form a natural barrier to the waves of the ocean. The famed coral reefs of Maldives can generally be divided into two categories: The hard corals that grow in big colonies and leave a limestone skeletal structure on which more coral grows. The other variety of coral – the soft coral do not leave behind any skeletons and live as growths on the ocean floor.
The land of Atolls
Maldives is famously known as the land of atolls. Let us try and understand what atolls are actually and how they form and survive. Basically, atolls are ring shaped coral reef islands that often surround a body of water called a ‘lagoon’. How atolls develop is quite fascinating in itself. Atolls develop with underwater volcanoes, also known as ‘Seamounts’. When the volcano erupts, it piles up the hot lava on the seafloor. When the volcano keeps erupting, it eventually ends up in increasing the elevation of the seamount. At some point, the top of the underwater mountain breaks the surface of the sea. The top of the mountain now becomes an oceanic island.
Now, tiny sea animals, called corals start to develop a reef or a colony around the island. This coral reef surrounds the island just below the ocean surface. This Coral Reef also known as a fringing reef leaves a space between itself and the island. This space filled with water is called the lagoon. Over time, the volcanic island erodes and sinks to the ocean floor, leaving the ring shaped barrier reefs which then turn into atolls. Most luxury resorts in Maldives are situated on these atolls and are secluded from the main land which in any case is itself a small island.
The Marine Life
Maldives is among the very few countries of the world that have given a lot of attention and allocated resources to protect, conserve and develop the unique flora and fauna in the island country. The underwater resources are quite unique to Maldives and have fish of all kinds, shapes and sizes that thrive in the crystal clear waters. So much so, some of the fish found in the Maldives can only be seen in home aquariums, such as butterfly fish, angelfish, clownfish, triggerfish and parrotfish etc. There are larger fish also found such as the barracuda, green sea turtles etc which are not easy to find in an open environment in other parts of the world. Apart from fish, the Rays are another class of marine life found in Maldives that is unique and fascinating. These graceful rays glide effortlessly and graciously under the sea and present quite a beautiful sight. The most famous rays are Manta Ray, also known as Devilfish, Sting Ray and the Eagle Ray. There are also various species of Sharks, Turtles and other fish that are a visual delight for all marine life enthusiasts.
How to best enjoy this beauty
There are various activities that you, as a tourist could do to enjoy and appreciate this beautiful creation of nature. Some of the ways you could be a part of this glorious underwater treasure are listed below:
Stay at an Atoll: Not that you will have a lot of other choices, but staying at an atoll in Maldives is an experience in itself and most resorts on these atolls have rooms, villas and huts alongside sparkling waters. Some resorts even offer undersea rooms. Needless to say, these dwellings give an exciting insight into the underwater world of Maldives and one can sight many unique and rare varieties of sea creatures.
Dine at an underwater restaurant: There are a few restaurants in the Maldives that are actually under water and offer glorious sights and sounds of the sea life. One noteworthy one is known as Ithaa which is located in Conrad Maldives Rangali Island at Alifu Dhaalu Atoll. The restaurant is built undersea and is made of glass completely. The diners get a surreal experience while dining here as if they themselves are a part of the underwater world.
Snorkel and Dive: Maldives is among the most popular diving and snorkeling destinations in the world and one of the best ways to explore the beautiful sea life is to put on your diving or snorkeling gear and enter the clear blue waters. There are expert trainers and guides that can take you inside the ocean and help you explore the beautiful coral reefs and the teeming marine life.
Glass Bottom Boat Ride: Another way to explore the sea life, although not in close contact is a glass bottom boat ride. These boats will take you through the crystal blue waters and help you spot exciting marine life through its glass bottom. Although not the best way to explore the marine life, it is quite convenient and can be indulged in by all.
The underwater world of Maldives is really breathtaking in all its manifestations. Whether you are out on a honeymoon or on beach holiday in Maldives, do spare some time to explore this natural phenomenon, there are very few places in the world where you can find similar marine beauty.